Nottingham’s Malt Cross secures Lottery grant to renovate building
The Malt Cross is one of Nottingham’s most historic pubs and it was recently successful in securing a grant to carry out vital restoration work on the building. Today our guest blogger Jo Cox-Brown writes about the exciting project.
You may well have heard the exciting news that the Malt Cross has been awarded over £1.3m in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund!
The Malt Cross is a wonderful old Victorian music hall that is considered to be one of Nottingham’s greatest hidden historical gems. The money will be used to renovate and restore the building to its former glory, while also providing new space in the currently unused basement levels for arts and crafts workshops, music rehearsal space and a new and improved art gallery. We will also be exploring more of the history of this unique heritage site, to share with local residents and tourists.
To whet your appetite, here are a few facts about the Malt Cross that we have uncovered so far…
- The Malt Cross was built by Charles Weldon in 1877 and designed by architect Edwin Hill. Edwin was a believed to boat builder as the Malt Cross resembles an upside down boat, which you can see if you look up at the glass roof.
- The pavement lights you can see in the ground-floor café bar are an original feature of the building they were made by the Hayward Brothers, a firm of ironmongers established in 1783, that patented the design of pavement lights in 1871.
- The glass vaulted roof is thought to be the earliest example of glue-laminated timber construction in England, it contains no nails and is made using bent timber and early animal glue.
- The Malt Cross is truly unique it has been described by the Theatres Trust as having “no precise counterpart in any other surviving or known pub music hall design”.
- An 1882 advertisement described the Malt Cross as the ‘handsomest and largest lounging vault in the United Kingdom with curiosities and specimens too numerous to mention’. It included a skating rink in the basement.
- During the mid-1890s Arthur Johnson, who was the proprietor at the time, installed two billiard tables in the basement. It was described as “the grandest billiard saloon in Nottingham”.
- In 1914 the Malt Cross was bought by a firm of fabric merchants, Chapman & Watson. The building accommodated a variety of textile-related stock, including lace, hosiery and drapery.
- More recently the Malt Cross has hosted several names which have gone on to become famous comedians; including Phil Kay, Sean Lock, Tim Vine, Jo Brand, Johnny Vegas, Peter Kay, Al Murray and Andy Parsons.
- Several well-known bands and musicians have played at the Malt Cross. Examples include Turin Brakes, Marcus Mumford (of Mumford & Sons), Rue Royale, Blood Red Shoes, Clare Maguire, Portico Quartet, Hot Club of Cowtown and David Wax Museum.
The Heritage Lottery funding will help us to establish more about the history of the building that is currently speculation: for example, was architect Edwin Hill in fact a boat designer or not? We know that Charlie Chaplin performed in Nottingham with a troop who performed at the Malt Cross, was this one of his earliest performances , did he make an appearance at the Malt Cross and then like many unsigned acts did he get spotted and become famous? Sam Torr Music Hall owner and the proprietor of the Elephant Man also ran and owned the Malt Cross Music Hall did the Elephant man ever perform in the Malt Cross? The caves beneath the Malt Cross are linked to those of an 11th century monastery that once bordered the site – is it possible that the monks used them for storing beer and wine?
Watch this space for answers to these questions and more! If you would like to follow the progress of the Heritage Lottery-funded project, please visit our website www.maltcross.com or follow us on Twitter via @maltcross.